Notre Dame is 2-0 after winning their first two games by a combined score of 98-6, but they haven’t been tested by Power Five competition yet. NC State is also coming off of an opening day win, and will look to defend their home field against their highly-ranked visitors. Let’s take a look at the odds for this intriguing early matchup, where my prediction is for NC State to cover a spread of +7.5.
Notre Dame Vs. NC State Prediction & Best Bet
Notre Dame has enjoyed the perfect start to the Sam Hartman era across two continents; they rolled Navy in Dublin, Ireland in a week zero special to start the season, and then dispensed a similar beatdown against Tennessee State in week one as the rest of the nation got their seasons started. For all of their early efforts, they’ve moved up three spots to #10 in the new AP poll, a spot very accurately reflective of the nice start to their season.
That being said, they’ve played some pretty comical squads thus far, especially Tennessee State, an FCS team that went 4-7 last year despite playing just one FBS team (Middle Tennessee). Navy’s “new-look” offense fell totally flat in Dublin, while their defense is just plain bad; it doesn’t crack the top-125 in PFF’s rankings, pretty brutal when you consider the fact that there are only 133 FBS squads.
North Carolina State unofficially finished 34th in this week’s AP poll, as they received a handful of votes after a road win against UConn. There’s a bit of hype around the Huskies after a bowl-bound 2022, and Storrs is not an easy place to play, but the Wolfpack undoubtedly would’ve liked to pull away more. QB Brennan Armstrong had an interesting team debut, after coming over from Virginia where he put up huge numbers in 2021 before completely flopping last year. Armstrong was mistake-free but unspectacular in the air game, and picked up nearly 100 yards on the ground with two touchdowns. Replacing the Kentucky-bound Devin Leary is no small task, and Armstrong seems ready to do it his own way, rather than by emulating the more pocket-based passer.
It’s worth noting that one of Hartman’s worst games of the season last year, when he played for Wake Forest, was a visit to NC State. Wake came in ranked but lost by 9, and Hartman was a huge reason as he tossed three picks. That’s not great news for Notre Dame, who will be left wondering if there will be a mental block for Hartman going back to the scene of the crime, or if this secondary and defensive coaching staff simply have his number.
Even if there’s not a specific edge against Hartman, this NC State defense will be a new challenge, as it’s soundly better than either the Irish have faced so far. Similarly, Notre Dame’s defense is miles ahead of UConn’s, against which NC State put up a game-winning but unremarkable 24 points. It’s safe to say that I’d lean towards the under in this one, while I also like NC State to keep it within a score against a team that has yet to be challenged in any way.
Notre Dame Vs. NC State Prediction & Best Bet: NC State +7.5 / Under 51
Notre Dame Vs. NC State Odds
Notre Dame is a 7.5 point road favorite, with -108 odds to cover compared to -112 for NC State. With the total set at 51, the over and under are both -110 to hit.
Sep. 09, 11:00 AM Spread Moneyline Total 100% of staff picked NCST to cover the spread Odds updated September 9th, 2023, at 4:13 pm
ND @ NCST
Sep. 09, 11:00 AM
100% of staff picked NCST to cover the spread
Odds updated September 9th, 2023, at 4:13 pm
Notre Dame Vs. NC State Key Matchups
Sam Hartman vs. NC State Secondary
As we’ve discussed, Hartman had some issues the last time he came down to Raleigh. Many of the same culprits will be back, namely top corner Aydan White and safety Jakeen Harris, both of whom recorded picks in last year’s matchup with Wake. White was the team’s leader with four interceptions, and with a PFF coverage grade of 81.6. Harris was third on the team in both categories, but has taken a back seat to Sean Brown this season.
Hartman finished seventh in PFF’s passing grade last season, between Heisman winner Caleb Williams and top draft pick C.J. Stroud. He tossed an impressive 38 touchdowns last year, but also 12 interceptions, six of which were accumulated in a two-game stretch including that Wake debacle. He threw 39 touchdowns and 14 picks the year before, so Notre Dame can expect high production, and hope for fewer mistakes. So far, Hartman has put up a ratio of six touchdowns to no turnovers so far this season. He hasn’t been tested, but is eighth in that PFF leaderboard, so we’ll see what he’ll do against an actual defense- one that’s given him trouble before.
NC State O-Line vs. Notre Dame Front Seven
A lot of winning at home has to do with controlling the tempo of the game as well as the football itself, and NC State could be set up well to do just that. Their run-blocking was probably the strongest facet of their win over UConn, earning them a top-40 grade in PFF’s rankings to start the season after finishing 35th in the category last year. Many of the same contributors are still in the fold, with center Dylan McMahon seemingly taking a step up this year, and the same could be said for guard Derrick Eason.
Notre Dame’s run defense has been top-20 per PFF in the early going, as they’re allowing under four yards per carry. The top-graded players in the front seven are the same so far; linebacker Jack Kiser, followed by d-lineman Howard Cross III. Those two are joined by Marist Liufau, who plays alongside Kiser and appears to have taken a major step up after the first two games. Still, it will be interesting to see how Liufau and the rest of the Irish defense fare against an offense that can actually challenge them.